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Forging Creative Futures: Trainee Teachers Give Promising Feedback in Leeds

On the 9th and 10th of January, Steve Byrne and I piloted our teacher-trainee workshops with Lisa Stephenson’s students at Leeds Beckett. It was a great opportunity to have an exchange with fellow project partners and gain insightful feedback from future teachers in Yorkshire, England.

This was a great occasion for me to pilot the Creative Mapping Workshop where the trainee teachers experience the creative methods that can be used in their future classrooms. After, we reflected on how they were impacted and what benefits this method offers their classrooms and students. While talking to the trainee teachers involved it became apparent that this experience offered an achievable fun method for creative, inclusive classrooms.

The students who were interviewed after the workshop noted how art methods can be a part of critical thinking: “so you can express your art and then think of the advantages, disadvantages, and different things involved.” The aim of the workshop as an inclusive model for learning was also observed: the “methods would be really good for children that struggle with writing and reading, so they could all have a go and not be left behind.” I was inspired to hear how these trainee teachers were centring inclusivity in the way they are considering their classrooms.

It was exciting to hear how versatile they noticed the workshop to be: “You can connect it to different parts of the curriculum as well, it wouldn't have to be a specific lesson….you could do this to try and get the ideas down first. So using, like art and imagination and creativity to do that.” These future teachers being able to pinpoint how exactly they would make these methods applicable to the curriculum means they are more likely to be able to incorporate them into their lesson planning once they are teachers.

The benefits of creative methods on well-being, developing values and building skills were highlighted by the trainee teachers.

“I think the freedom that would offer children kind of takes the anxiety away from them. And they can just focus on, delving deep into what they feel their home is.” The trainee teachers also noted that emotional intelligence was being developed within this format, “that develops emotional intelligence essentially.”

By acknowledging what they noticed in these methods they also unveil their aims as our future teachers. “I think values are something of value in learning, even the chance for the children to develop their self-awareness and their identity.”

Overall I was inspired to hear their feedback - It made me hopeful for the future of teaching! It is clear to me that if these trainee teachers are given the time and resources to do well by their students, that’s what they will do. They really saw the value in what we are offering at arted and wanted to bring it into their developing teaching practice. Furthermore, these trainee teachers' goals align with our ethical principles at arted, this bodes well for them using the workshops we are developing in their classrooms. If the trainee teachers go into their professions with a developed and practised sense of the value of creativity in their teaching. It seems to me that this is where our work could have a great impact.

I was very grateful to Lisa Stephenson for creating this opportunity to be able to pilot in this way. Outside of the classroom, it was great to reconnect with project partners, Ana Sanches De Arede, Steve Byrne and Lisa Stephenson. We had a lovely time over dinner, exchanging ideas, plotting upcoming projects and discussing how current events affect our work together. All in all, it's a pleasure working together with such warm, inspiring thinkers at the forefront of their fields.

Katie Lee Dunbar

(Project Coordinator, Young Arts Neukölln, Germany)

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